Strauss files lawsuit against Daily News, doctor
A well-known local herbal supplement company is suing the Kamloops Daily News in connection to a column published in the newspaper earlier this year — a column described in court documents as including “false, malicious and defamatory” statements.
Strauss Herb Company claims an April 2, 2012, column by Russ Reid, a retired doctor, was meant to make Kamloops Daily News readers think Strauss customers were being duped.
A statement of claim filed by Strauss in B.C. Supreme Court states the column left the impression the herbal-supplement company is “involved in a conspiracy to defraud gullible consumers by conning them into buying Strauss Heart Drops, a worthless health product which, to the knowledge of the plaintiffs [Strauss] has no medical benefit or therapeutic value.”
The column was in response to a KTW front-page story nearly a month earlier — in the March 6, 2012 edition — titled Strauss claims victory, describing the fact Strauss Heart Drops had received natural-health designation from Health Canada.
In its statement of claim, Strauss took particular issue with one paragraph of Reid’s column — which stated Strauss “has refused to reveal its formula and put standard specific information about the ingredients on its product label.”
Reid went on to compare Strauss to 19th-century snake-oil salesmen and New York Ponzi-scheme con man Bernie Madoff.
The court document claims the column was intended to cause “hatred, ridicule and contempt” toward Strauss.
The company states the Kamloops Daily News was asked to run a retraction and apology — something it claims was never published.
There is no dollar amount included in Strauss’s statement of claim, but the company is seeking general damages, aggravated damages, exemplary and punitive damages, special damages, interest and costs, in addition to a court order barring the Kamloops Daily News from “any further publication of the defamatory expression complained of.”
The Kamloops Daily News responded, in documents filed last week, with a counter-claim against Strauss, alleging false advertising and seeking orders from the court that Strauss stop making exaggerated claims about its products.
The newspaper also denied any malice in publishing Reid’s column and claimed it was a matter of public interest — specifically citing reader comments under the column when it was published online, including a number of “intemperate remarks” from a user traced back to a Strauss computer.
“Strauss Co. has thereby been provided with a voice on the matters of public interest by the defendants and with an opportunity to publicly rebut the facts and comments contained in the column,” the paper’s response reads.
It’s not known if or when the matter may go before a judge.
None of the claims have been proven in court.